My husband found a handwritten letter from his dad dated May 5, 1943 from when he served in the Army during WWII . The letter was written to his parents and sister describing his day and how he missed his wife, Betty.
Randy’s father had beautiful handwriting, and I thought the letter should be shared with his brother, Kyle, and sister, Lesa. But how? Copies seemed so blase’. Then the idea of having the handwritten WWII letter transferred onto t-shirts came to mind.
I found a local t-shirt screen printing business and selected different sections from the letter to create three different shirts. Each shirt also featured the postmark showing the date of the letter and their dad’s signature, Sgt. Eugene Drew.
Randy’s shirt had the opening sentence. I have been listening to Fibber McKee & Mollie. I Googled and found that they were an American radio comedy duo from 1935 to 1959. Perfect! My husband listens to NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion on the radio (oh… he is so much like his dad). I included a picture of the comedy duo to the t-shirt.
On Kyle’s shirt I added this paragraph. Yesterday, I went out and crawled under barbed wire with machine guns firing over. Hope you all are OK.
This struck me as funny – you’re describing taking fire, then the next statement nonchalantly you’re checking on their welfare? This was probably a normal occurrence – one minute it’s crazy war, the next you’re writing a letter.
Like her dad, Lesa is sweet and quiet. The third shirt said, Can’t think of anything else to say. Love, Gene. I placed the signature on her left sleeve at the wrist so when she wears it, she can look at it like a watch to see her dad’s handwriting.
I gave the shirts as Christmas gifts. For a “thoughtful twist,” I had Randy and his siblings open the t-shirts in order of the paragraphs in the letter. I explained the letter was from their dad to his parents and sister.
Randy opened his gift first and I asked him to read his t-shirt out loud. Then I read the next part of the letter until it was time for Kyle to read his section. He opened his gift and read from his t-shirt. I read more of the letter until the end when Lesa opened her gift to read the last part of the letter.
It was emotional and tears flowed.
Later that evening, Lesa texted me, “Thank you for the BEST SHIRT EVER! You always make things special.”
Many of us have boxes of old letters, pictures and keepsakes. Look through them and make the old new again. Share a part of your family’s history and life as it connects us to our past, present and future.
Sgt. Eugene Drew, Dad, Daddy, Gene, Gramps – you are forever in our hearts and we miss you always.
We would love to hear about your family treasures transformed into thoughtful gifts. Please share in the Comments section.